North Little Rock gets the best of freshmen defensive battle with Bryant

By Rob Patrick

Even with their championship at the Kameron Hale Memorial Tournament in hand, there was no reason to believe the Bryant Hornets freshman team would suffer any kind of letdown when they returned to regular-season action on Monday night. In large part, that’s because they were taking on one of the two teams they’re chasing in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference. North Little Rock came into the game tied with Benton at 4-0 in the league. The Hornets were 3-1.

But for the second time this season, the Junior Charging Wildcats made it tough for the Hornets to score, eventually prevailing 31-19.[more]

The 19-point output was a season-low for Bryant. The previous low was 22 against North Little Rock back on Nov. 19 in the championship of the Bryant Invitational.

In turn, North Little Rock hadn’t been shackled to such an extent since that previous meeting between the two teams (30).

The loss dropped Bryant to 10-4 overall going into a road conference outing against Cabot South on Thursday.

“We’re just having trouble scoring,” stated Bryant coach Steve Wilson. And, indeed, the Hornets scored 32, 30 and 33 points while capturing the Hale Tournament at Lake Hamilton. It’s just that they gave up just 30, 27 and 28 in those wins. North Little Rock held them to 32 percent shooting from the floor while forcing 22 turnovers. The Hornets were just 3 of 8 from the free-throw line.

“We held them to 30 points and a few of those points came off our offense, off turnovers,” Wilson acknowledged. “We worked the ball, we were patient, it’s just that sometimes our decisions on offense — it’s something we’re working on, trying to get better.

“They played their 1-3-1,” he noted. “That’s what they’d done the last time we played them. We knew they were going to press. I thought we handled the press pretty good but they did get some turnovers. We had a few quick-hitters off inbounds plays that we just couldn’t get to go down. And we just had trouble hitting the 15-footer.

“Nobody’s shooting well right now,” Wilson continued. “I’m not really sure why because we’re spending time in the gym and we’re working on our shots. They just aren’t falling. It may be a bit of a mental deal. But when they start to fall, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

A long first-half drought put the Hornets in a hole. After North Little Rock took a 4-0 lead, Riley Hall got Bryant on the board at the 2:51 mark of the first quarter, knocking down a pull-up jumper in the lane. Marcus Wilson drained a 12-footer then made a steal that led to another hoop for Hall that gave the Hornets a 6-4 edge.

That basket came with 2:01 left in the first quarter. Unfortunately, Bryant didn’t score again until Leon Neal hit a free throw with 3:15 left in the second quarter.

Bryant’s defense kept North Little Rock from running off with the game during that stretch but, as it was, the Wildcats forged a 14-6 lead and had two chances to build it further. The Hornets forced a turnover but couldn’t take advantage then Scott Workman drew a charge and, moments later, Neal was fouled.

After Neal hit a free throw, Hall blocked a shot but the Hornets were unable to take advantage immediately. The teams traded turnovers before Wilson was fouled. He converted once and, after a North Little Rock miss, Workman banked in an 8-foot jumper to get the Hornets within 14-10.

The Wildcats’ Rodney Bryson answered and when Bryant’s Strodney Davis hit a free throw with :08.2 left in the half, the score at the break was set at 16-11.

North Little Rock’s T.J. Francis traded buckets with Neal to start the second half but that proved to be Bryant’s only basket of the third quarter. North Little Rock was unable to take advantage until the final two minutes of the period when Thomas Alexander, who led all scorers with 11 points, hit a layup and point guard Gary Vines converted two free throws to expand the lead to 22-13 going into the fourth quarter.

Alexander added a free throw to start the final period but then Wilson and Aaron Bell hit consecutive shots for Bryant to trim the margin to 24-17. The Hornets had two chances to get closer but suffered a pair of turnovers before Alexander got free for a layup and, after another Bryant turnover, Bryson hit a free throw to make it a 10-point game.

Alexander’s stickback at the :48 mark made it a 12-point game.


Score by quarters

NLR 9 7 6 9 — 31

BRYANT 6 5 2 6 — 19


Vines 2-6 2-3 6, Bryson 2-5 1-4 5, Terry 1-6 1-1 3, Francis 1-4 0-0 2, C.Williams2-5 0-0 4, Alexander 3-8 5-6 11, Bradford 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Austin 0-0 0-0 0, J.Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-34 9-14 31.


S.Davis 0-0 1-2 1, Wilson 2-7 1-2 5, Hall 2-6 0-0 4, Neal 1-3 1-2 3, Cambron 0-2 0-0 0, Bell 2-3 0-2 4, Hewitt 0-1 0-0 0, Rayburn 0-1 0-0 0, J.Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Workman 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 8-25 3-8 19.

Three-point field goals: North Little Rock 0-5 (Bryson 0-2, Alexander 0-2, Francis 0-1), Bryant 0-8 (Wilson 0-4, Hall 0-2, Rayburn 0-1, J.Davis 0-1). Rebounds: North Little Rock 26 (Alexander, Bryson 6), Bryant 20 (Neal, Cambron 4). Turnovers: North Little Rock 15, Bryant 22. Team fouls: North Little Rock 14, Bryant 14. Fouled out: Bryant, Neal.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!